Eclipse's Tornado SLi i87n46 is the undisputed gaming champion in our chart. By using two nVidia GeForce GTX 460 graphics cards, this power desktop PC trounces the competition with a superb score of 106fps in Stalker: Call of Pripyat.

Eclipse's Tornado SLi i87n46 is the undisputed gaming champion in our chart. By using two nVidia GeForce GTX 460 graphics cards, this power desktop PC trounces the competition with a superb score of 106fps in Stalker: Call of Pripyat.

Powered by a quad-core Intel Core i7-870 processor running at 2.93GHz, the Eclipse Tornado SLi i87n46 scored a blazing 141 points in WorldBench 6. Although it’s still two points off the Arbico and Palicomp results, given its gaming performance we’d go so far as to say this is the most powerful desktop PC on test.

As with most of the competition, 4GB of DDR3 RAM and a 1TB hard drive are provided with the Eclipse Tornado SLi i87n46 power desktop PC. The Biostar motherboard supports neither USB 3.0 nor SATA 6Gbps, but in addition to its pair of PCI Express x16 slots you get two spare memory slots and two sets of PCI and PCI Express x1.

The Eclipse Tornado SLi i87n46 power desktop PC's internals are housed inside an imposing, solidly constructed NZXT Beta system case, finished in black inside and out. Plenty of fan-mounting points are available, although no rear fan is installed.

There’s no room left in the Eclipse Tornado SLi i87n46 power desktop PC's budget for a Blu-ray drive or external speakers, but you do get a rather smart-looking 24in Hanns-G display, complete with an HDMI input.

While dual-graphics makes Eclipse's Tornado SLi i87n46 power desktop PC a great choice for gaming fans, this setup inevitably leads to increased noise and power consumption and reduced access to the motherboard’s expansion slots. We also experienced some compatibility problems with our Crysis games tests using the supplied drivers.

Power PCs chart ranking

Palicomp Core i7 Blitz 930-24 USB3
Arbico Elite i7-8785 HD
Eclipse Tornado SLi i87n46
CyberPower Infinity i7 Hercules XT
Chillblast Fusion Hammerhead

>> NEXT PAGE: Buying advice

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Eclipse's Tornado SLi i87n46 is the undisputed gaming champion in our chart. By using two nVidia GeForce GTX 460 graphics cards, this power desktop PC trounces the competition with a superb score of 106fps in Stalker: Call of Pripyat.

Power PCs buying advice

Processor: Intel’s Core i7 chip is taking this price bracket by storm. It’s a match for the best dual-core systems and will outpace any previous-generation quad-core machine. However, some Core i7-900-series chips require more expensive DDR3 memory and a new motherboard design, so expect to make sacrifices.

The latest Core i7-800-series processors use lower-cost motherboards but can still compete with the lower end of the Core i7-900-series on performance.

Intel’s dual-core Core i5 CPUs are also worth considering, offering higher clock speeds for your money.

Memory: Consider 4GB as a minimum. If you’re buying a Core i7-based system, expect 3GB or 6GB of RAM (such PCs install memory chips in threes). The Core i7-800-series and Core i5 chips install memory sticks in twos, however, making them excellent value for money.

A 64bit OS will take full advantage of your RAM, but check that your software and drivers will be supported. If you opt for more than 4GB, a 64bit OS is essential.

Storage: Anything less than 500GB is considered small. With prices falling, it’s more typical to find 1TB at this price point.

Get a multiformat DVD writer that can write to a dual-layer format if you want to store 8.5GB on a single disc. Look for a minimum of eight-speed DVD+R DL. Try to get eight-speed DVD+RW. At this price you may also find a drive that reads Blu-ray discs – note that it won’t burn to Blu-ray, and DVD burning speeds will be slower.

Keep an eye out for new motherboards with USB 3.0 and 6Gbps SATA support, enabling high-speed drives to be added.

Display: 22in or 24in flat-panels are the standard here. Many vendors supply cheap screens in order to leave more room in the budget for other components, but it’s worth spending a little more on a display if you intend to work primarily with digital photos or video.

A screen with a response time of 8ms or less will minimise blur on fast-moving images. For image editing, contrast ratio and colour fidelity are more important.

A digital input can preserve picture quality, so think twice about displays that provide analogue inputs only.

If you’re a movie fan, look for one of the new 16:9-format 22in-plus displays that offer full-HD playback. You may even be able to find a 24in model.

Graphics card: At this price point, the ATI Radeon HD 5850 seen in three of the five PCs here is an almost unbeatable choice for gamers. It offers multiscreen support and supports DirectX 11.0.

nVidia’s GeForce GTX 470 also supports DirectX 11.0 and delivers excellent performance, as well as support for the company’s 3D Vision glasses. Look for souped-up versions with faster clock speeds or additional memory.

The GTX 260 and HD 5850 can be used in dual-card setups later but, to take advantage of this, your motherboard and power supply must be compatible.

Ready-made dual-card setups are available but can be more expensive.

Power supply: The level of power you require will depend largely on the type of graphics card you expect to use. Look for at least a 500W unit at this price point or 750W upwards if you plan to add another card. A known brand is also likely to give better stability. Overclocking also demands a high-quality power supply.

Sound card and speakers: Onboard sound is no match for a sound card. Consider Creative’s Audigy 4 or X-Fi range.

>> NEXT PAGE: Specification and our expert verdict

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Eclipse Tornado SLi i87n46: Specs

  • 2.93GHz Intel Core i7-870
  • Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit
  • 4GB DDR3 RAM
  • 1TB SATA
  • 6 x USB 2.0
  • Biostar T5-XE motherboard
  • 800W EZCool PSU
  • 24in Hanns-G HH241H (0.27mm pixel pitch
  • 1680x1050)
  • 2 x 768MB nVidia GeForce GTX 460 (games scores: Crysis = fail
  • Stalker: Call of Pripyat [Medium/Ultra] = 155/106)
  • onboard sound
  • speakers built into monitor
  • max DVD speeds: 22x/22x/12x/16x/6x/8x/12x/16x (DVD-R/+R/-R DL/+R DL/-RW/+RW/-RAM/-ROM)
  • one-year return-to-base warranty
  • WorldBench 6 score: 141
  • 2.93GHz Intel Core i7-870
  • Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit
  • 4GB DDR3 RAM
  • 1TB SATA
  • 6 x USB 2.0
  • Biostar T5-XE motherboard
  • 800W EZCool PSU
  • 24in Hanns-G HH241H (0.27mm pixel pitch
  • 1680x1050)
  • 2 x 768MB nVidia GeForce GTX 460 (games scores: Crysis = fail
  • Stalker: Call of Pripyat [Medium/Ultra] = 155/106)
  • onboard sound
  • speakers built into monitor
  • max DVD speeds: 22x/22x/12x/16x/6x/8x/12x/16x (DVD-R/+R/-R DL/+R DL/-RW/+RW/-RAM/-ROM)
  • one-year return-to-base warranty
  • WorldBench 6 score: 141

OUR VERDICT

Trouncing the competition in our gaming tests and delivering excellent performance in our general-computing benchmark, the Eclipse Tornado SLi i87n46 is the most powerful desktop PC on test. While achieving this feat has inevitably lead to compromises elsewhere - there are no speakers nor a Blu-ray drive, for example - the Tornado should prove popular with those with a need for speed.

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